There are innumerable châteaux in Bordeaux that bear testament to the presence of the English (and the Irish and Scottish) in this region of France. Perhaps the prime example is Château Talbot, the Talbot in question having been the Earl of Shrewsbury, a military commander of considerable significance during the latter stages of the Hundred Years’ War; his defeat at the Battle of Castillon ultimately saw the English routed from France for good. There are further examples from more recent times, such as Palmer, named for General Charles Palmer, who served under Wellington and discovered the estate when travelling through Bordeaux in 1814. And of course there are the Barton estates, Langoa and Léoville, both of which owe their names to Hugh Barton. Let us not forget, then, John Lewis Brown, whose name lives on not only in the Médoc, at Cantenac-Brown, but also down near Léognan, in the shape of Château Brown.
Château Brown: A History
As is the case with a number of other properties around the Graves region, the history of Château Brown stretches back over many centuries, and viticulture was dominant here long before it was in the Médoc to the north. There is evidence that vines were grown here as far back as the 12th century. Nevertheless, it did not take on the name by which we know it today until it was purchased by John Lewis Brown, a wealthy Scottish trader who settled in Bordeaux near the end of the 18th century. Records of classifications such as Lawton’s in 1815, and Franck’s in 1845, both reveal the existence of a Château Brown, but this is in the Médoc, and is in fact John Lewis Brown’s other major asset, which went on to be the Cantenac-Brown and Boyd-Cantenac of today. There is little talk of the Brown of Graves, but despite this the property enjoyed an admirable reputation during the 19th century, and the wines were highly regarded when stood against their peers. Nevertheless, during the early 20th century the estate fell into disrepair, and eventually it ceased to function as a vineyard. With the advancing suburban sprawl of Bordeaux, it is a wonder that the vineyard did not disappear altogether.